In the cell you have these little machines that work together,” says Célia Jeronimo, a postdoctoral fellow at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal (IRCM). Collecting data that is smaller than the eye can see, and more profound than most can comprehend, Jeronimo uses DNA microarrays to study DNA compaction and gene regulation.
If such scientific talk sounds foreign, it’s routine jargon for the Portuguese-born Montrealer who, coincidentally, also speaks fluent French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. In simpler terms, she explains, “I look at proteins, which are like neighbours interacting with each other. If I know one neighbour, maybe I’ll have a clue about the neighbour next door.”
Jeronimo has been studying gene regulation since her PhD in Biochemistry at the Université du Québec à Montréal, which was followed by her first post-doctoral fellowship at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, Spain. Her dedicated involvement in this complex field was the reason for which she received a Research Excellence Fellowship of $20,000 from the L’Oréal Canada For Women In Science program with the support of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.
For research scientists who depend on such funding, the award is not only a huge support salarywise, but it also fosters scientific advancement. “There are so many post-doc fellows,” admits Jeronimo. “I was surprised. I knew that I had a good CV of projects and publications, but you never know.”
To Son Chau, VP Scientific Affairs at L’Oréal Canada, however, Jeronimo is an ideal laureate: “The aim of the fellowship is to recognize and highlight the accomplishments of promising women scientists. Based on Celia’s vast experience and enduring commitment, she was a clear winner to our jury.”